Qualified or unqualified – Does it matter?

Citizen journalism, user generated comment (UCG), participatory journalism, ‘we-media’. All of these imply that you don’t have to be a journalist to produce journalism as we read in John Kelly’s Red Kayaks and Hidden Gold: The rise, challenges and value of Citizen Journalism.

The idea that “users aren’t users but producers” is a scary notion as where does that leave ‘professional’ journalists?, but as Kelly states within his piece, “journalists need to accept it [citizen journalism]”.

People argue that citizen journalism is for unqualified people, and therefore not as trustworthy. This statement causes a stir when we have the likes of journalist’s Jayson Blair and Andrew Gilligan who have admitted or been caught to fabricate the truth. So does being qualified really mean that much more? I think it’s the person, journalist or not, who has to gain credibility, regardless of their qualifications.

With newspapers they set their own agenda. They select what to write about and how to write it. Citizen journalism removes these restrictions and dismisses the idea of a gatekeeper as there is the now the opportunity and freedom to write anything. And in turn, read anything. In my eyes this highlights the positive aspects of citizen journalism. Similarly, as quoted in Kelly’s work:

“We will do for ourselves what the news media will not do for us.”

It’s now users that create the content

Kelly references Andrew Keen who compares untrained people doing journalism to monkeys banging at a typewriter. This in my opinion is a ridiculous statement to make. Sure citizen journalism has it’s negative points but not everyone is incapable you know? There are lots of people out there who share news and share it well.

Towards the end of Kelly’s work there is the predication that websites that neglect to allow reader participation will risk losing readers. Predictions are valid but I don’t know if this statement stands its ground. There could be 200 students in a lecture, but not all of them will want to contribute.

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